Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Milan Svoboda founded his first jazz big band during his studies at the Prague Conservatory in 1974. The ensemble was called The Prague Big Band and quickly made its name among the best Czech jazz groups and gained renown abroad as well. In the beginning the Orchestra drew inspiration from the big bands of Thad Jones/ Mel Lewis, Buddy Rich and Don Ellis. But soon original compositions completely took over the repertoire. During the first decade the ensemble featured Jiří Stivín, Michael Kocáb, Ondřej Soukup, Zdeněk Šedivý, Rudolf Ticháček, Michal Gera and others. The modern sound of the Prague Big Band brought fresh air to the Czechoslovakian jazz scene in the late 1970s. The group regularly won polls as the Best Jazz Orchestra and frequently received high ratings also in European jazz magazines.

In 1978, the band released their classic and highly sought after LP Portrait. The album remains a high watermark for Eastern European jazz in the 70's, as the Prague Big Band effortlessly interweaves between funk, fusion, and swing.